Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope…these words by Martin Luther King Jr may be the best to describe the life of Dr. Beda Olabu.
Dr. Beda Olabu
18th November 1982 saw the birth of a handsome, male child down in Homabay, Kenya. Strong, healthy, and determined to live; this infant knew nothing of the life that awaited him, the innocence of a neonate truly was bliss! As he nursed at his mother’s laps very few things worried this little bundle of joy.
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Dr. Beda grew up in Nandi hills, a lush green tea settlement in Kenya’s rift valley that boasts of beautiful hilly scenery, epic green landscapes that the tea plantations proudly unfurl to anyone who would cast them a glance. The richness of the soil, its fruitfulness, the ambiance, the beautiful language spoken so smoothly, the rich culture made it a little heaven for most!
This excluded Beda and his brother. Neither attractive scenery nor any beauty of the little world around them proved therapeutic for their wounded souls made so by life’s cruel fangs. Many of his classmates led peaceful happy lives; with regular meals often comprising of mursik (sour milk), often coming to school smelling of yesternight’s onions. These fattened little things had the exact opposite life of what Beda had. They were barely surviving. Running on empty, that’s what they did!
See, his dad had moved to Nandi hills to work as a tea picker in tea plantations to support them, earning only 2000 shillings monthly, barely enough to cover the basic essentials! Furthermore, his mother had gone back to live in Homabay and the pain of living away from a mother was made worse when his father married a second wife. Needless to say, she made it her business to ruffle their feathers and give them a compulsory tutorial on the horrors of life. Life was not good. Even at such a young age, Beda knew he was living on the wrong side of mother nature’s temperament…or was he?
Fate had it that he did well in his primary school national examinations, well enough to secure a position in the giant Kapsabet boys’ high school and make his Chemomi primary school proud. Life here was not easy either given the financial situation back at home. The tuition fee was a problem to amass let alone upkeep money. He lived on the thinnest piece of toast life had to offer, but of this little slice he was bent on never wasting even a crumb of it!
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He was blessed with sharp brains, hands ready to work, and a steely determination for success that had him scoring highly in school. The issue about money, better yet the lack of it, more often than not rained on his parade. In spite of this and partly because of this fact, he consistently performed better than most in school, and in the final exams emerged the crème de la crème of Nandi district, the very epitome of academic excellence! This earned him a mention in a national newspaper, and man was he thrilled!
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This feat had our not-so-little Beda get admitted to the University of Nairobi to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery! This was a major step towards a stellar life ahead of him. The light was shimmering dimly and distantly at the end of the tunnel. The prospect of such had him wearing a steady, diligent, and strong spirit determined for excellence and he wore it well!
It was no mean feat that he became excellent in the formidable Human Anatomy unit in his first year, a unit some if not most first-year medical students dread and are traumatized by. So much so that he was awarded an honorary degree to crown his achievement in this area. This saw him mentor, guide, lead, motivate and indeed help so many medical students in the area of anatomy, which to most is a tumultuous road never taken. His five-year sojourn in medical school was furnished by such noble deeds that had so many students achieve similar excellence in human anatomy. Such is his nature, of a candle that sacrificially ignites the flames of others.
The unrelenting, burning passion for anatomy was almost like a consuming fire in him, and it was no shock that he hurried back to the university to pursue his master’s in anatomy immediately after his one-year internship at the then Kangundo district hospital.
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He is now a teacher of human anatomy at the University of Nairobi’s school of medicine, having taught in other institutions such as Kenya medical training college and Kenyatta University. He does this job so superbly and with an overflowing passion that many who have passed through his tutelage confess of his reeking of so much passion for Human anatomy, it rubbed off on them. He is also a master’s student pursuing a master’s degree in Diagnostic radiology and a doctorate degree in human anatomy at the same university. Talk of a jack of all trades and evidently a master of all!
He is a stellar example of one who defies all odds stacked against him and is definitely a role model to many people living in the same condition he lived in. Despite having lost his parents later on and facing major financial and emotional difficulties he can always smile and say he did what most could not; make sweet lemonade, out of the many lemons life gave him (and man, were those lemons many!). His rise from grass to grace is a fact he deeply attributes to God’s providence and benevolence. It can be done, it has been done!
Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope…
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